Jeff Bezos Vs. Richard Branson: Who Will Get To Space First?

Decades ago a race took place between the U.S and Russia to send astronauts to space and the moon. Now in the 21st century, there is one taking place between several companies to have rockets go to space and Mars.

There is another space race on the horizon between two billionaires who are vying to get to space first. 

What Happened: Billionaire and Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc SPCE founder Sir Richard Branson could be going to space soon, according to new rumors.

After test flights by Virgin Galactic, Branson will take part in a passenger space tourism mission from the company that will send him to space. While that was anticipated for the second half of 2021, the timeline may be sped up after a successful May 22 flight and a heated race with a rival.

One week ago, Virgin Galactic told Ars Technica that it would do another test flight with four employees and then launch a flight carrying Branson.

“We’ve got three test flights left. We’ve got a flight with employees in the cabin. A flight with our founder, Sir Richard Branson, after that, and then to round out our flight test program, we are flying the Italian Air Force,” the company told Ars Technica.

A new report from Parabolic Arc suggests that Virgin Galactic could send Branson to space as early as the July 4 weekend aboard the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo.

“At this time, we have not determined the date of our next flight,” Virgin Galactic told Ars Technica. The company said its prior timeline was final test flights this summer and fall.

Virgin Galactic needs to obtain a commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license from the FAA, according to Parabolic Arc. Right now the company can only fly employees as tests. The company could receive its license in early July, according to sources.

Related Link: Space Tourism Is Hard But Still A reality, Why Analyst Cut Virgin Galactic's Price Target 

Why It’s Important: Branson has said he will be one of the first passengers to go to space aboard a Virgin Galactic spaceship., Inc. AMZN founder Jeff Bezos recently announced he will fly to space aboard the Blue Origin New Shepard vehicle on July 20. The flight on Blue Origin would be the first crewed flight on the vehicle after 15 flights with no passengers.

The launch coincides with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

An auction for a seat on the Blue Origin flight with Bezos has a high bid of $3.8 million as of Wednesday.

Another interesting angle is whether Branson will reach what is considered space by the FAA.

Reaching an altitude of 50 miles (80.4km) is considered the boundary for space. Another aviation company recognizes 62.1 miles (100km), the Karman line as the official boundary of space.

VSS Unity has reached 89.2km but has fallen short of the 100km level. Blue Origin’s New Shepard exceeded 100km on 12 of its 15 flights and the

Investors should watch to see if Virgin Galactic makes an announcement of an upcoming flight with Branson.

Virgin Galactic is scheduled to fly passengers later in 2021 and see the new VSS Imagine joining the company’s lineup in 2022.

SPCE Price Action: Shares of Virgin Galactic are down 6.03% to $35.22 on Wednesday.

Disclosure: The author is long shares of SPCE.

(Photo: Virgin Galactic Unity via Virgin Galactic)

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Posted In: NewsTechMediaTrading IdeasBlue OriginJeff BezosSir Richard BransonSPACEspace stocks
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